The Collection of portraits of Speakers of the House of Commons is a self-contained collection within the larger Parliamentary Art Collection. It was begun in the early 1800s as a historical collection by Speakers Addington and Abbott, who asked descendents of former Speakers to donate portraits. By 1805 twenty-five portraits had been acquired, which were displayed in the Speaker's Residence.
The Speakers' portraits were saved from destruction during the fire of 1834. The new Speaker's Residence was one of the last parts of the new Palace of Westminster to be completed in 1857. The fitting out and furnishing took a further two years, and in January 1859 Speaker Denison and his family moved in. The collection of Speakers' portraits was placed back on display and has remained there ever since, with portraits of successive Speakers being added during their tenure of office.
The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and serves as their representative to the Monarch, the House of Lords and other authorities. He or she presides over the House of Commons Chamber, keeping order and calling Members to speak during debates. The role is taken by one Member of Parliament elected by other Members of Parliament.